The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

More observations and pics

| October 31, 2004

  • So Liz (my g/f) is happy that I've grown up and gotten a real car.
  • Something is wrong with the driver side lower door speaker. It's either a loose connection, or something screwed up with the tape deck adapter (it doesn't seem to do it with the radio). So, I'm going to use the radio transmitter with my portable music player and see if it still does it, and if it does, then it's not the tape deck. Otherwise, I'll have to buy a new tape deck adapter (the old one is starting to have issues with the wires. They've been all pinched and bent and such).
  • It's loads of fun when your girlfriend is being a pain, so you pull a right hand turn, then punch it so she gets thrown around the car and screams.
  • I need a new laptop – the video cable comes loose and makes the screen colors all screwed up, so I have to pop off the trim panel and adjust it. Much like moving up from shitty American cars, I need to stop buying shitty Dell laptops…
  • We were picking up our housemate from the airport and showing her what the car could do, and I chirped the tires off the line. Woot.
  • A 5 car pileup on the interstate is an excellent excuse to take all the twisty country roads back (for those of you familiar with New England, 95 through Providence around TF Green was a mess, so we took route 1 back to URI and got Chinese food on the way).
  • 150 miles on 1/4 tank of gas makes me happy…

For the folks who don't know what my old car was:

Old car, new car

New car pics and observations

| October 30, 2004

  • All cars should be German and turbocharged
  • New car smell is overrated. At least nowadays, it smells like adhesives and plasticizers.
  • 80mph doesn't seem that fast anymore
  • Somehow, magically, when I climbed into this car, the road became overclogged with pokey drivers.
  • I like the fact that when you take a corner, the body doesn't roll like a ship
  • It's nice to do 150 miles on 1/4 tank of gas.

(Oh, FYI – this is my first new car.)

Odometer Current odometer reading (the top value) after driving to my parents’ house. The car Me and the new car. The color is “Blue Anthracite”. Sometimes it looks grey, sometimes blueish, sometimes greenish.

New Car

| October 28, 2004

Was feeling well enough that I went to the dealership. We took the TDI Golf for a test drive. Much tighter than the Jetta (or at least, the '05 Golf is tighter than the '04 Jetta). Final price was $20,700, including the mud flaps. Okay, okay, I know I said I wouldn't budge on the $20,500 price, but, in my opinion, the little extras in the GLS were worth it, after driving it and playing with them. Of course, there was a bit of drama. I'm haggling with the salesman, he has to go ask the manager, and the manager yells at him for like 10 minutes about how she can't do that price, she's going to lose her job, etc., and then he comes back and does that price. Whatever.

Fun bits and bobs that make the $1700 over the GL price worth it:

  • Monsoon sound system: The speakers are nice and punchy, with decent bass response. 5 band EQ. CD player and Cassette deck. The thing even has an LCD display in it for the stereo. Apparently there's an amp hidden somewhere in the car too.
  • Sunroof. Meh. I can take it or leave it.
  • Alloy wheels: Considering I was probably going to spend $1000 or so on new wheels, and now I'm not, that alone eats up most of the extra
  • Cold weather package: Heated seats + windshield washer nozzles – Oh, my God the heated seats are nice! Plus, after skiing, or being out in the cold, they'll probably be worth it. That and the fact that the diesel doesn't heat up as fast as a gas car (because the engine runs a lot cooler), will probably make them very nice in the winter (especially once the company moves and we start commuting to Warwick). And the heated nozzles means no more iced over washer nozzles! Woot!

So, anyway, I'll take delivery of it Saturday afternoon, unless they don't approve me for financing for some reason. However, I'm all preapproved by VWofA in their 'Tier A' classification (whatever that means), so I doubt there will be an issue. Heck, I've worked at the same job since I got out of college, I make a decent living, and I no longer have any outstanding debt. Stability, earning potential, and good income to debt ratio, what more do they want? So, I'm not really all that worried.

Oh, and this Blue Anthracite is also known as Grey. It's just a nice, neutral, kind of gunmetal grey. Black interior. Nothing flashy, just a nice, solid, understated color. I like it as much as the blue. Maybe a little more.

With the car out of the way, I can go get the Chrysler fixed. I need to call the mechanic tomorrow and see if I can get the car in on monday. With the heater turned off, the thing didn't sieze up. I don't know if it means anything or is just coincidental. Of course, the problem might have had more to do with the cold, in which case the mechanic is probably going to have to keep it until it's cold and they can make it do it. Dunno. Don't care much, either. It also needs to go in for factory safety recall. Apparently there's some flaw in the shifter for the automatic transmission, where you can shift it out of park without pressing the button. So, they have to take a look at it and fix it. All free, of course. But, I need to do all this before I can sell it in good conscience.

This has been a very surreal week. Two days up at the client site. Two days sick. Old car being sick. Buying a new car. Liz bringing our housemate to the airport at 4:30 this morning so that she (the housemate) can fly out to 'Frisco for a conference. It'll be nice when things settle out into normal, boring humdrum again.

Home sick

| October 28, 2004

Hey folks…

Have some time to update this because I'm home sick these past couple days. Spending time sleeping, reading, playing video games, drinking Vitaminized OJ (the Tropicana Immunity Defense stuff) and eating chicken soup (Liz brought me the OJ and soup; she's so good to me.)

I was going to start playing Max Payne 2, except the silly men at Gamestop put Max Payne 1 in the Max Payne 2 Box! Of course, I bought the thing 6 months ago, so there's no way I can go exchange it. The best I can do is sell the disc back and buy Max Payne 2. So, I'm fiddling with Grand Theft Auto 3 again. The new one looks nifty..

In other news, some important bit on my Chrysler decided to sieze up on me. It's not one of the things connected via the main drive/timing belt; it's stuff connected by the smaller belt which runs a bunch of pumps and compressors, by the looks of it, and is normally turned on and off while the engine runs. Problem is, something is stuck, so the belt just squeals and slips and smokes. Need to have it towed to the mechanic and fixed. Of course, I'm sick, so this is not going to happen right away.

So, I called the VW dealer, and he said that my car is still not built (it's been 2 months), but he did get a bulletin about them not building cars with the Electronic Stability Package right now. If I wanted to change the order, it probably would be here much sooner. I explained the situation with the Chrysler, and asked what he had on the lot. He has 2 TDI Golfs, both GLS models (I was going for the lower-end GL), both with the cold weather package (heated washer nozzles and heated seats), and the standard GLS stuff (sunroof, alloy wheels, etc.) The choices are Anthracite Blue (basically a Blue-Grey) or Silver. I was going to go for the Blue.

I made an appointment to go see him tonight, but, again, I'm sick. I'll see how I feel tonight. Problem is, if I don't move on it, it'll get sold, but if I barf on the man's desk, that's no good either. On the other hand, I'm hoping that my usual sickness pattern holds. See, I usually end up feeling pretty okay around supper time, and plan on going to work. Then I go to sleep for the night, wake up, and feel like crap again. Go back to sleep until noon, take it easy until 5, and then I generally feel well enough to function. So, if the pattern holds, I might try to go up to test drive and haggle over the car tonight. (Not much of a haggle. He quoted me $21k. I was going to do $19k for the GL. I asked if we could meet in the middle at $20k. He said that was tough, because that's the invoice. Ignoring dealer holdback and the fact that they can sell it at invoice and still make money, if I compare GL MSRP to quote, he's giving me 4% off the GL's MSRP. Applying that same 4% to the GLS MSRP, it comes to just shy of $20.5k. So, that's what I want to pay, and he throws in the mud flaps ($100) for free. Otherwise he can take the ESP off my GL order (so that it actually gets built) and I'll wait for it. )

Revelations

| October 20, 2004

Henceforth, I will no longer make the claim that I can drive a standard.

After discussing manual vs. automatic in various VW discussion forums, I got Liz to let me take the beetle for a spin around the parking lot surrounding my apartment.

After stalling the car 5 times, ending up in third when I wanted to be in first (what is it with that? I'm in second, the line in the knob says “straight up one”, so why did that put me in third?) and generally causing Liz tremendously sharp intakes of breath and so forth, I have decided that I lack either the ability or the experience. However, I cannot acquire the experience without one, which I cannot drive off the dealer's lot without said experience, so we're at the famed catch-22.

Consequently, I will still get an automatic, because I'm not going to be able to learn from Liz and keep our relationship intact. As it is, I think she's ready to walk out on me over this affair. (This smacks very much back to her trying to teach me to ski, except that I actually wanted to learn this, which makes it that much harder. Of course, this was also a lot more dangerous to the 4 people waiting and watching (and presumably laughing) as I'm struggling to get the car through this little intersection. Of course, had someone told me that I was in third, I might have been able to remedy the situation).

So, I guess it's vanilla TDI Golf with no modifications (the folks in the forum say that chipping the ending with an automatic probably won't work so well unless you modify the transmission's software too, which the chipmodders don't usually do).

I am now suddenly a lot less excited about this car. Strange considering that nothing has changed at all – it's still exactly what I originally spec-ed. Funny how one's mind works, isn't it?

I think I'm going to go exercise now. Work out the angst.

What did you do this weekend?

| October 17, 2004

We put in Liz's new car stereo, now with iPod integration!

Autumn1Autumn2 Happy autumn, folks!

Hello all

| October 13, 2004

Been busy for a bit. We did a housewarming this weekend. Good turnout. Lot of work, though.

I am currently reading The Underground History of American Education, by John Taylor Gatto. It basically lays out, in fairly comprehensive detail, the theory that modern forced schooling is not designed to educate, but to pacify the intellect and train one to be obedient to management. So far, it has been a good read. Additionally, for those of you with limited funds, the full text is posted on the web. I also watched Fahrenheit 9/11. Of course, John Ashcroft singing is worth the price of the rental, but I cannot fathom why people were so shocked by this movie. Yes, Bush is an oil man. Yes, American companies profit from this. Yes, patronage, nepotism, and favoritism are alive and well. This is not a surprise. If you really thought that they weren’t planning on Iraq before Bush took office, you’re a bit out of touch. If you thought Iraq wasn’t really about oil, then you probably thought the US Civil War was about slavery, too. Nothing Moore said was really all that shocking or surprising. Let’s see, what else… Libertarians lose the injunction to stop tonight’s debate. It was a misallocation of state funds and all that. They lost on the grounds that they didn’t file with sufficient time left before the event, not because they were wrong. Might see further legal battles on this one. CSPAN showed another 3rd party debate at Cornell. There was the Green, Libertarian, Constitutional, and Socialist parties. Not a bad spectrum. The Constitutional party seem to basically be religious libertarians, and the Greens are Socialists with an Environmental bent. It was a good show. I still have it on TiVo. I was trying to find this one online, but can’t. If anyone does, let me know. So, I’m reading more and more of the Libertarian stuff. I think I might join. Basically, I can get behind these guys. Really fundamental ideas, like dissolving the ATF (it’s unnecessary because the things it deals with should be deregulated/free marketed/dealt with by other agencies). There are some things that lead one to think a bit though. For example, what about public safety issues such as handled by the FDA? Well, why can’t it be handled by private industry? After all, no public agency certifies consumer electronics. This is done by UL, a private company. Could this be applied to areas currently handled by the FDA and USDA? I have a variety of these issues rattling around in my brain, but there’s a rumbly in my tumbly, so I’ll probably have more on this later (though I don’t know when later will be). I REALLY like Firefox‘s new search bar. It’s nifty. I’m going to Carnage in November. If anyone else is going to be there, let me know. If you’re coming from this area, we might be able to carpool (though it’s not my car and I’d have to ask).

HOLY &^#&@^&^&$

| October 9, 2004

3rd party candidates arrested for crossing police barricades at the Presidential debate

Update on lots of stuff

| October 5, 2004

Let's see, lots of stuff. Howsabout chronological order?

1.) The work situation seems to have worked itself out. For those of you who weren’t aware by my previous posts, I was growing increasingly frustrated at work. Well, as part of the reorganizing, I am going to be replaced as Software Engineering Manager (this is okay, I requested it), and will go back to doing fun stuff, namely writing firmware. Reviews have come through, and things are settling down. I’m actually starting to enjoy it again. I’m playing with an embedded TCP/IP stack. 2.) The 3rd party debates were amusing. Look here for downloads of them (free registration required). 3.) Went to the Apple store in Albany. The G5 iMac is nice. The bezel is a little big, but you kind of get used to it. 4.) I’ve decided that I don’t go to enough gaming conventions, so I’m going to Camp Carnage in November. 5.) Gartner says that Linux PC’s are used to pirate Windows. How about all the copies of Windows I’ve bought that I don’t use? There’s like 2. All my other machines I’ve built. Wankers. 6.) Ballmer (MS CEO) says iPod users are thieves. Because all their music is stolen. WTF? That makes my brain hurt. Also rich is how MS is going to do the digital hub lifestyle because Apple can’t. Hello?!? They’ve already done it. Besides, my friend Marc experienced the MS digitial lifestyle. He ripped a bunch of music as WMA on his PC. He then transferred it to his iPaq so he could listen to it at work. He gets to work and the iPaq won’t play it because he doesn’t have a license or some shit like that. Solution? Re-rip it as MP3 so he doesn’t have to be worried about it. 7.) Open source desktop pager for OSX 8.) We ordered Liz an Alpine stereo with the interface box for connecting to the iPod. It’s pretty slick. Plug your iPod into it and you can control it and play music through the stereo. I’d have links, but it looks like Alpine’s site is down for maintenance. 9.) Doom 3 is out for Linux. Ordered my copy for TuxGames. Installing the demo now Re: Apple Computers I really want to buy a Mac. I just can’t find one I like. Here’s why: – Laptop screens need to be 1400×1050 or bigger in a 15″ package or smaller, so all their laptops are out. – I want a desktop system that fits in my rack or can be put in a rackmount case – The G5’s would be nice, except that you have to cut the handles off to make it fit nicely, and that’s just dirty. – An Xserve would work, except the video card is (rightly) crappy. – I don’t want an iMac G5 because I have a monitor, and I don’t want a second one unless it can be used in a dual monitor setup. – Basically, I want a G5 cube… Re: iPods I’m sorry folks, but I really can’t get behind the iPod as an easy to use player. I think it’s the single worst Apple interface that I’ve ever used. I’ve tried both the 3rd and 4th generation iPods, and the 4th generation is better, but not perfect. Problems with it: – The menu button should bring you to the root menu system. It is NOT a back button! – The |>| button should be a menu forward button. It currently does NOTHING. The center button is OK in this functionality. – The center button doesn’t make you think it’s a button (3rd generation only) – While playing music, the center button toggles around a few different things. The first thing allows you to use the scroll wheel to move around in a song. Problem is that it reverts back to the volume! Easy way to deafen yourself because you didn’t find the spot you wanted in the song! Don’t switch back unless I press the button, damnit! – I don’t like the fact that the scroll wheel adjusts volume at all. It’s too much of a large surface to hit accidentally when picking up the unit. The volume should be separate buttons that are harder to hit. FYI – I have a Rio Karma 20GB, which I really like. Note: Liz prefers the iPod to the Rio Karma. If Liz writes a response to this detailing her criticisms of the Rio, I’ll post it. We might even go into a compare/contrast as far as featureset. I was just detailing my frustration with their UI, not my issues with their support for things (no ogg, no flac..) And I’m spent….